By most accounts, our government is flawed.
Partisan politics continue to impede progress in Washington. Need proof? Search “Shaheen-Portman” on Achrnews.com. The Shaheen-Portman bill, first introduced as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act in May 2011, offered comprehensive legislation designed to help both federal and state programs establish energy-efficiency programs and financing. The bill was heralded by many and gained endorsements from more than 200 businesses, trade associations, and environmental groups. Additionally, politicians from both sides of the aisle vocalized their support.
Furthering its cause, at the start of his second term, President Barack Obama proclaimed energy efficiency a top priority, pledging the country would cut its energy consumption in half over the next two decades.
So far, so good, right? Then, Shaheen-Portman entered the buzzsaw known as Congress and picked up amendments dealing with the Keystone XL pipeline and mid-term election gamesmanship, among others, which eventually brought the bill to its knees.
Obama did sign a watered-down energy-efficiency bill into law in March of last year (S 535 - the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015) while a revamped Shaheen-Portman bill, the Energy Savings and Industry Competitiveness Act of 2015 (S 720), remains stuck in neutral.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Recently, another email subject line caught my attention: “San Francisco EPA Workers Claim Office is a ‘Sick Building.’”
Huh? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) own building is sick? That’s worse than Pete Rose betting on baseball…
I read on: “Testing showed elevated levels of two potentially dangerous chemicals, formaldehyde and caprolactam, on several floors of 75 Hawthorne in San Francisco, the headquarters of EPA Region 9.”
Of the 139 employees who filled out a survey, 64 percent reported feeling sick after renovations began inside the facility.
“We have about 600 people in the building, and when they came to me, they were really, really concerned,” said Patrick Chan, union president of NTEU Chapter 295.
Jared Blumenfeld, head of EPA Region 9, also acknowledged feeling ill while working in the building. “Was there a problem? Yes. Were people feeling symptoms, including me? Absolutely. It was a royal pain,” said Blumenfeld.
Blumenfeld didn’t agree with the sick building characterization, stating: “This is not a sick building. A sick building has some attributes this didn’t have. We have a handle on what the problems are here.”
Now, I understand it’s improper to draw a conclusion based on one news report, though, to the best of my Googling ability, the EPA has yet to formally reply to NBC Bay Area’s claims.
So, when it comes to the government, it appears it’s OK to simply say, “We’ve got it under control.” Thus, do as I say, not as I do.
Just imagine the fallout if your business or warehouse was tagged with the heinous “sick building syndrome” label. The government would most likely intervene and issue citations based on broken ordinances or laws. Inaction could threaten your business license, cost you thousands in fees, and decimate your company morale — no one wants to work in a sick building or for an owner who harbors one. A business would likely never recover.
But, when faced with the stringency of its own laws, the government simply turns the other cheek. Who polices the police?
America will turn to the polls this November to not only elect a new president, but to decide the fate of 34 senators and all 435 House seats. Additionally, countless local officials, measures, millages, and ordinances will be decided in local elections.
From energy and tax policies to minimum wage mandates and labor laws to the action — or inaction — of the EPA, this election will absolutely impact every HVAC contractor nationwide.
Are you “sick” of the EPA There are candidates proposing to eliminate it. Do you prefer clean-energy initiatives? There are candidates waving those flags, as well.
And, while it’s easy to get lost in the marathon that is a presidential election, it’s essential we all study the issues that matter most to us; vocalize why those points are imperative to ourselves, our employees, and our businesses; and vote accordingly.
Publication date: 3/28/2016